If you subscribe to Humblebee & Me on YouTube you’ll know I’ve been working on my first-ever glycerite (cranberry!)—and today I am incorporating that beautiful bright pink liquid into a moisturizing and soothing Frosted Cranberry Face Cream. Swoon!
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I first learned about glycerites from my friend Lise, who has been working with glycerites for years and has written an entire book about them. Glycerites are a type of extract, where glycerin is the solvent and the infused thing can be just about anything botanical—fresh fruit included! The notion of safely formulating with fresh fruit immediately captured my imagination, but I needed a bit of hand-holding to get started. Thankfully, Lise agreed to coach me through creating my first glycerite, and here we are! I detailed the creation process in a four-part video series on YouTube; all four parts are linked in the “Relevant links & further reading” section further down in this post. Please watch them!
My homemade cranberry glycerite is part of our water phase, bringing a lovely fresh cranberry scent to the formulation. It also contributes a bit of colour, though that fades within a week. The heated water phase also features hydrating hyaluronic acid and soothing panthenol (Vitamin B5) to help our skin be its best self in the midst of the dry, cold winter. I also included some allantoin in the cool-down phase for its anti-irritant, skin protecting benefits.
I chose Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate as the emulsifier for this face cream so I could have more control over the finished feel of the lotion, choosing a blend of silky cetyl alcohol and Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) to thicken the emulsion. This gives us a slippy, gel-cream like consistency that’s really lovely. If you don’t have Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate I have provided some guidelines on using a self-thickening emulsifying wax like Polawax instead in the Substitution list; please read it! The rest of the oil phase is lovely, fruity, antioxidant-rich cranberry seed oil. Not only is it a key part of the “Frosted Cranberry” theme, but it’s also great for irritated & sensitive skin and contributes a fresh, juicy scent to the finished cream.
I packaged this formulation in a 100mL (3.3fl oz) airless pump bottle with a treatment pump top (gifted). I think a soft squeeze tube would also be lovely! This formulation isn’t so thin that a jar or tub would be really messy, so if that’s what you’ve got, do that. Use as you’d use any face cream. Enjoy!
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Relevant links & further reading
- Hyaluronic Acid in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Panthenol (Vitamin B5) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cranberry Seed Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cetyl Alcohol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Allantoin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Liquid Germall Plus in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Super Simple Moisturizing Lotion with Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate
- How to Formulate with Hyaluronic Acid
- Let’s Talk About Hyaluronic Acid
- How to make a self-preserving cranberry glycerite from LisaLise
- Preservatives chart
- Can I use a different preservative than the one you’ve used?
- My four-part video series on making the cranberry glycerite with LisaLise:
- More Frosted Cranberry formulations:
- More face formulations:
Frosted Cranberry Face Cream
Heated water phase
46g | 46% distilled water
20g | 20% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution (USA / Canada / New Zealand)
15g | 15% cranberry glycerite
3g | 3% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
Heated oil phase
1.5g | 1.5% Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (USA / Canada / UK & EU / Australia)
10g | 10% cranberry seed oil
3g | 3% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 0.3% Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (USA / Canada / UK / Australia)
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.
Weigh the heated water phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or glass beaker. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Weigh the heated oil phase into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes the oil part should be completely melted and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh the water phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating, and then pour the water part into the oil part. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Grab your immersion blender and begin blending the lotion, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid lotion doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. Blend for about a minute before switching to hand stirring. You’ll need to be fairly diligent with the stirring at first, but once the mixture has thickened up a bit and is uniform you can switch to stirring occasionally. Once the outside of the glass measuring cup is just warm to the touch (40°C or cooler, if you have a thermometer) we’re ready to proceed.
Now it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of lotion on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of lotion, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of lotion. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! I chose a 100mL (3.3fl oz) airless pump-top bottle from YellowBee (gifted).
Use as you’d use any face lotion. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cream contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this formulation in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 100g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia (allantoin) before asking.
- You can replace the glycerite with plain glycerine, though this will be a loss to the formulation.
- You could use a self-thickening emulsifying wax instead of the Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate and cetyl alcohol. I’d start with 3.5% self-thickening emulsifying wax and 1.5% cetyl alcohol. Read the encyclopedia entry on Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate and the linked resources in the list above for more information.
- You can replace the cranberry seed oil with a different luxurious light-to-midweight carrier oil that your face loves, though this will be a loss to the formulation.
- Cetearyl Alcohol will work instead of cetyl alcohol, though the finished formulation will be less slippy.
- Aristoflex AVC or hydroxyethylcellulose will work instead of Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN). I don’t recommend using xanthan gum as it’s quite snotty, though it could be ok around 0.1–0.2%. There are lots of gum/gel options out there—do some research and try it if you aren’t sure if it’ll work!
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.